Accounts

Guardsmen
Larry Shafer
John Simons

Authorities
Egil Krogh, Jr.
John Dean
Governor Rhodes
Ray Price

Advocates
Peter Davies
Sanford J. Rosen
John Adams

Photographers
John P. Filo
John Darnell

Artists
John David

The Guardsmen

Larry Shafer

Mr. Shafer was a Guardsman at Kent State in May, 1970 and was one of the defendants in the trials that followed. Mr. Shafer is one of the few Guardsmen to speak openly in the incident. An interview with John Dunphy, of the Akron Beacon Journal on May 4, 1980, summed up Shafer's feeling about what happened at Kent State.

Guardsman Ends 10-Year Silence on KSU

A former Ohio National Guardsman who shot and wounded a Kent State University student 10 years ago today says the general in charge of the troops did not have control of the situation.

"If that general had had his head out of his - - -, he never would have put us in that situation," Larry Shafer, the former Guardsman, said after a decade of silence.

"The Kent State shootings could have been prevented with proper leadership. There was never any real need for the National Guard to be in Kent in May 1970."

Shafer was one of a contingent of troops ordered to Kent State to put down anti-war demonstrations.

On the afternoon of May 4, the Guard, under command of former Gen. Robert Canterbury, opened fire on the demonstrators, killing four students and wounding nine.

Shafer, 34, a Ravenna fireman, said those involved in the shooting have had to "keep their mouths shut" because of the legal proceedings stemming from the shootings. The end of those proceedings came in January 1979, when the guard and the plaintiffs in a $46 million civil damage suit agreed to a $675,000 out-of-court settlement.

"It's time somebody gets the other side of the story," Shafer said Saturday.

Shafer believes the 1970 disturbances in Kent could have been handled by the city police, the campus police, the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Portage County sheriff's office.

"The Mayor of Kent pushed the panic button," Shafer said. "His police couldn't handle the situation, so he called the National Guard."

LeRoy Satrom was mayor of Kent at the time. He is now the Portage County engineer.

Shager also criticized Gov. James A. Rhodes and said Rhodes' decision to send troops to Kent was politically inspired to help his unsuccessful 1970 candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Shafer said one of the lessons learned from Kent State was that "you don't send people into a situation like that with the heavy armament that we had."

"We were combat troops," Shafer said. "They were not sending us into a war zone."

The National Guard was pulled off highway patrols in the norteastern part of the state during a Teamsters strike and sent to Kent on the night of May 2.

When the guard rolled into town, demonstrators were putting a torch to the university's ROTC building. There were only minor skirmishes between demonstrators and students the following night.

On the afternoon of May 4, the guard was ordered to break up a noon rally on the campus. After moving the demonstrators with tear gas from the university's Commons up a hill and onto a practice football field and a parking lot, the guardsmen were attempting to make a hasty retreat.

Shafer said his superiors ignored the hours of riot training the troops had gone through before they were sent to Kent.

"The way the whole thing was handled, the riot training we had prior to that, they just threw it out the window. All those officers and not a one of them seemed to remember what we were trained," Shafer said. "The whole thing was a farce."

As the retreating guardsmen reached the crest of a hill, they turned and fired into the demonstrators.

Shafer said he recalls hearing a single shot, then turned around to face the students. He said the guardsman on his right fired once into the air, so he fired once into the air.

Shafer said his rifle jammed and he had to eject the casing manually. When he finished that, he said, he noticed a demonstrator coming at him with his hand raised in an obscene gesture and his other hand behind his back.

"I felt I was in immediate danger, not knowing whether he had a weapon or a rock," Shafer said. "I felt my life was in danger."

Shafer fired another shot that ripped through the abdomen of Joseph Lewis, then an 18-year-old student from Massillon. Lewis now lives in Oregon.

Shafer said there was a sudden surge of rock-throwing, screaming demonstrators just before the shooting.

An FBI investigation concluded that the guardsmen were not surrounded at the time of the shooting and that there was not sudden surge of students. The FBI's report also concluded that guardsmen concocted the story that their lives were in danger after the shooting.

When asked about the FBI's conclusions, Shafer said, "The investigators were not there. They didn't know the full scope of what it was to be there. I know what I saw."

Shafer said there was no conspiracy or prior agreement among the guardsmen to fire into the crowd of demonstrators.

The FBI's investigation eventually led to a federal grand jury that was convened in December 1973. After three months of testimony, eight guardsmen, including Shafer, were indicted on criminal charges of violating the civil rights of demonstrators. They were later acquitted.

Shafer also was one of the defendants in a $46 million civil suit that was settled in January 1979. The settlement included a statement that the plaintiffs have claimed as an apology.

Shafer disagrees. He said it was not an apology, but rather a statement of regret. "The whole thing was totally regrettable," he said.

He does not object to the $675,000 settlement for the plaintiffs, Shafer said. "I always felt the state was responsible if any monetary award was to be given."

Asked if other guardsmen shared his critical view of the guard leadership, he said that "the majority of the people on the hill" would agree with him.

Shafer said he wanted to get back "to leading a normal life" with his wife and three children.

"There were no winners and no losers that day and there hasn't been since," Shafer said.

"After 10 years, I hope everybody will let this thing die and bury it."

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John Simons

John Simons, an Ohio National Guard Chaplain, was present at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

"I don't know the top leadership of the Guard was as sensitive as it could have been, but I don't know that they could have operated any other way under the circumstances." John Simons finds it difficult to fault any one person for the 1970 shootings.

"I don't place the blame on any particular individual," he said with regard to the incident. "It was a series of events that people got caught up in."

Simons was asked if his life was in danger that day. "No," he replied. He based his observation "from where I was . . . I didn't notice a heck of a lot since I was in the center away from the troops that fired."

As to whether justice has resulted from the court cases, Simons seems unsure. "We might never find out what happened, like any number of historical events."

He concluded that in terms of historical significance, "It was the first time that middle class white students were shot by middle class young people."

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The Authorities

Egil Krogh, Jr.

Egil (Bud) Krogh, Jr. Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs in the Nixon Administration. Currently he practices law in Seattle and is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Golden Gate University, San Francisco.

"Kent State is one of the sad tragedies of our times and I don't think any settlement is an indication that justice was served,"Egil Krogh to the questions, "Was justice achieved for the victims of Kent State and their families?"

Explaining that he thought the tragedy "was the result of an interlocking networks of forces coming into play under extreme stress," Krogh emphasized that for him it was difficult to assess blame for the incident: "I blame ignorance of how to deal with demonstrators, a lack of forethought with loaded weapons, the inexperience of those policing it, the extreme moods of people involved." Krogh, who was responsible "to make sure the government did not overreact" to demonstrations staged in Washington D.C. during 1969-72, expressed satisfaction with his own efforts in the capital to "assist organizations involved in the protests to make sure the most was accomplished with the least possible disruptions." Krogh's job was concerned with the "technical end," figuring out what types of permits were needed, the size of the crowds, communication facilities, etc. During his tenure at the White House, no deaths or serious injuries resulted from demonstrations in the capital city. Except for the "mass arrest order" that accompanied the Cambodian protests, which he termed a "tragic decision" by his superiors, Krogh maintained that "we were attempting to help people demonstrate their feelings without getting hurt."

"I am not aware of any federal involvement at Kent State." His impression was that the state of Ohio was responsible for what occurred at Kent State. "People on my staff were only responsible in attempting to handle the demonstrations in D.C. In the technical end where I was working Kent State was a very sad and chilling event. I am not sure the mood was in political affairs or how other people saw it in the White House. Among my peopleand we were on a different trackthere was a great deal of concern."

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John Dean

John Dean, Counsel to the President in the Nixon Administration, now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work on a new book.

Former White House counsel John Dean characterized the mood at the White House in 1970 as one of "excessive tension over the anti-war movement". The Administrations disposition toward the peace movement was, Dean felt, complimented by a "lack of understanding and appreciation" for demonstrators. Offering his own views on this period, Dean recollected, "I had been in anti-war protests in law school and I thought they overreacted inside the White House gates. . . the mood outside the gates was first, serious, but second, there was a spirit of fun and relaxation."

To the query "has justice been served in the Kent State case?" Mr. Dean replied: "I don't see how justice could have been done when people lost their lives." On the significance of the incident to Americans ten years later, he added, "Kent State is a reminder of tragedy. . . a lasting memory of how overreaction could result in senseless deaths both among those in demonstrations and in Vietnam." When asked whether he agreed with some historians' analysis that the shootings at Kent State had marked a turning point in the Administration's plans for the war in southeast Asia: Dean remarked, "I am not your best source here; I have trouble with history that assesses 'turning point'."

Dean said he knew nothing about a November 1970 "Eyes only" memo from John Ehrlichman to then Attorney General Mitchell which indicated that "the President had decided" there would be no federal grand jury investigation of the incident at Kent State: "I never saw that memo. I don't see how Ehrlichman could call that shot . . . I don't see how the White House could stop a federal grand jury if it were already impaneled...besides, U.S. Attorneys have incredible independence, even if they are pro-White House." (the federal grand jury was not impaneled until 1974.)

Dean also disavowed any knowledge of overt action by the White House to scotch protest against the war: "I have no knowledge of plans to quell dissent . . . . I don't know how they would do it." To the suggestion that Kent State was possibly the Administration's show of force to the dissidents, Dean replied, "I never had the impression that Kent State was orchestrated by the Administration. . . I don't know of any such efforts. . . besides, Kent State was not nationally oriented, it was Ohio oriented." Dean confirmed that he had been in New Haven with Bill Ruckleshaus prior to the April 1970 Yale demonstrations. When asked if he had also travelled to Ohio later that week Dean responded". . .the only reason I would have been in Ohio would have been to visit family. . .I don't know, I'd have to go back and check through my calendars."

Finally, to an inquiry if he would be surprised by revelations from classified documents on to thwart domestic dissent, Dean chuckled and remarked, "I have learned to be very unsurprised about anything that happened in the White House I worked in."

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Governor Rhodes

James A. Rhodes, currently the governor of Ohio, also occupied that position in 1970.

Throughout the past ten years Governor James A. Rhodes of Ohio has refused comment on the shooting incident at Kent State. In an effort to obtain information for this section so as to provide the reader with as many viewpoints as possible, I called Governor Rhodes' office. I was unable to speak with the Governor, but did have the following conversation with his Press Secretary, Jack Daley.

Payne: "What are the Governor's reactions with regard to the Kent State Incident 10 years later?"

Daley: "If we have a reaction we will release it ourselves."

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Ray Price

Ray Price is the current Chief of Staff for former President Richard M. Nixon.

"I don't think you well get any comment from Mr. Nixon personally," replied Ray Price, for President Nixon's Chief of Staff, to an inquiry about Nixon's reactions ten year later to the Kent State incident. Offering his own view of how the Nixon administration reacted to the shootings, Mr. Price remarked, "It was like a thundercloud. It hit us like anybody else. It was a totally irrational response to the Cambodian invasion. After the incident it was politically exploited by those who were trying to scuttle the war effort."

About those involved, Price added, "I personally had a lot of sympathy for the Guardsmen. They were just a bunch of scared kids with guns in their hands. I still get very angry that it is seen as some kind of calculated assault." "Outrageous was his response to the allegation that Kent State was part of a government plan to crush dissent. " I do think it accelerated the public's revulsion of the war primarily because it was exploited by the anti-war group. It underscored the wisdom of Mr. Nixon's campaign theme, that it was time to lower our voices and discuss things rationally. Kent State was the ultimate in shouting at each other." What occurred at Kent State could essentially be characterized as "rational discussion versus mobs in the streets," Price concluded.

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The Advocates

Peter Davies

Peter Davies is the author of The Truth About Kent State: A challenge To The American Conscience.

The Kent State Sting
Essay by Peter Davies. (Published with permission)

Of all the stories written about what happened and why at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, the most important has yet to see the light of day. For more that 3 1/2 years the Nixon administration steadfastly refused to convene a federal grand jury because, in their words, there was insufficient evidence to justify prosecutorial action, and little likelihood of obtaining convictions against guardsmen. Then, on December 11, 1973 at 8:00 pm, the government made a stunning about-face, and did what they had claimed for so long they could not do: convene a grand jury. Why?

That question, generally unasked by the news media, has but one logical answer, which is to be found in the generally ignored chain of events that began in the spring of that year when Congressman Don Edwards (Dem. CA) became interested in the charges of the victims' families that President Nixon and his Attorneys General, John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, had been obstructing justice.

As chairman of subcommittee No. 4 (Civil Rights) of the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Edwards was in a position to initiate a Congressional investigation of the Justice Department's handling of the Kent State case. When Elliot Richardson replaced Kleindienst as Attorney General, still nothing happened on the Kent case. Edward' aids began exploratory research into the history of the government's treatment of the Kent State killings. A local grand jury in Ohio had whitewashed the guardsmen, and blamed the students, faculty and university administration. The President's Special Commission on Campus Unrest, chaired by Governor William Scranton, had condemned the shootings as "unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable." Mr. Mitchell endorsed that conclusion on August 13, 1971, when at the same time he announced his decision to do nothing. And there things sat for almost 2 years until, in June 1973, I submitted to the Edwards' subcommitte a 40-page detailed report of what we knew about May 4, 1970, and the Justice Department's almost irrational refusal to act on that compelling evidence.

The following month the Congressman's legal aide, Patrick Shea, called to tell me that the committee would hold public hearings beginning in late September or early October, and that among those already listed to be subpoenaed to testify were Mitchell, Kleindienst, John Ehrlichman, John Dean (who was an Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department at the time of the shootings), Governor James A Rhodes of Ohio, and that state's National Guard generals, Sylvester Del Corso and Robert Canterbury. This was the summer when the Watergate scandal was unravelling with almost weekly shocks of cover-up, obstructions of justice, and other assorted misdeeds and criminal acts by high government officials.

Less that a week after Shea's phone call, Attorney General Richardson surprised everyone by suddenly announcing that he had ordered "a new inquiry" into the Kent State killings. John Crewdson of the New York Times told me over the phone from Washington that regardless of the Richardson move, there would "never" be a federal grand jury probe. Mr. Crewdson, who had excellent sources in the Justice Department, was so emphatic it was obvious he had seen enough secret material to be firmly convinced of the opinion. When pressed he would say little more beyond the mystifying observation that full disclosure of the truth would be "more painful for the families of the dead that the loss of their children." In other words there was some link, direct or indirect, between Washington, Columbus and the killings at Kent State. It would be six years before we would learn the contents of one of the documents Mr. Crewdson apparently saw: An "eyes only" memorandum for Ehrlichman to Mitchell reminding the Attorney General of President Nixon's order Not to convene a federal grand jury. This was a blatant obstruction of justice on the part of the President; and the memo was sent in November 1970, at a time when the Justice Department was assuring the press that an intensive investigation into the merits of grand jury action was ongoing.

The Richardson "new inquiry" into old evidence had the desired effect of stalling the Edwards' subcommittee. As long as this new probe continued, Congress could not intervene. This was the first state in the governments' elaborate plan to kill the potentially dangerous Congressional investigation and preserve the cover-up of the governments' role in what had happened at Kent State. That role (using agents provocateur to burn down the ROTC building and incite students to riot) was first hinted at as early as October 1970 when the Justice Department contacted Ohio's special prosecutor, Robert Balyeat, and asked him to furnish the names of all those likely to be indicted by the Portage County grand jury. Although local law prohibited the disclosure of such information to anyone, country judge Edwin Jones violated the law by approving the request. Significantly the names of six men targeted to indictment in connection with the burning of the ROTC building, which appeared on the three lists sent to Washington, subsequently were not indicted. Apparently the Justice Department, to protect its own involvement, had struck the sic mnames. If what had happened at Kent State was just the local incident that it was claimed to be, why was Washington so interested in the names of those likely to be prosecuted?

Throughout August and September the "new inquiry" continued, or so we were led to believe, and the chances for a Congressional investigation in 1973 faded away. Suddenly, in October, the roof fell in. President Nixon ordered Richardson to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson refused to do so and resigned. Acting Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also declined to execute the presidential order and was fired. Finally, his successor, Solicitor-General Robert Bork, did the honors and Cox was gone. When the dust settled we realized that the "new inquiry" might well be gone too despite assertations by Justice Department officials to the contrary.

In November there was renewed interest in a Congressional investigation by the subcommittee, especially after Mr. Nixon dropped another bombshell by nominating Senator William Saxbe of Ohio to be his new attorney general. when Saxbe told newsmen that one of his first acts, once he was confirmed, would be to "shut down" the "new inquiry" into Kent State, alarm bells must surely have rung over at Justice.

Elliot Richardson, who had not been involved in the Kent State cover-up, must have been discreetly made aware of some of the material, like the Ehrlichman memo, that could be damaging to the government in the event they came to light during a Congressional probe. As a loyal administration official, Richardson was persuaded, in the best interests of the country, to do something that would forestall that probe, hence the "new inquiry." William Saxbe, on the other hand, had already publicly committed himself to end what Richardson had initiated. "I cannot understand why Richardson did it," he told interviewers. Without any knowledge of the evidence available to the Justice Department, Saxbe said there was no basis for any further action on the Kent case because, as he put it, the guardsmen had "fired in self-defense."

On December 10, 1973, Saxbe appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. After being asked several questions about Kent State by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Saxbe was pressed to pledge that if confirmed he would not interfere in the case. It was reported by the media that Saxbe so promised; but in fact he had qualified that promise in wording that did not escape the eye of Acting Attorney General Bork. Saxbe had promised not to intervene if by the time he was confirmed a federal grand jury had been convened. Bork was not caught on the horns of a dilemma. Allow Saxbe to be confirmed; risk showing him the secret material, and keep the "new inquiry" going as long as possible, or stop both Saxbe and Edwards by disobeying the President's 1970 order. Shortly before Saxbe was confirmed, Bork opted for the grand jury, and his decision was made public on the evening of December 11, 1973. The sting was on, and although the primary target were the families of the victims, the students and others who had been clamoring for over 3 years for this, it would in the end be justice and truth that suffered the consequences. By doing what Mitchell and Kleindienst had repeatedly said could not be done, Mr. Bork was about to kill several birds, Albatrosses in this case, with the proverbial stone.

The grand jury was convened in Cleveland within a week. It would continue well into March, 1974, before completing the taking of testimony. The government's chief prosecutor, Robert Murphy, was, of course, in control of the jurors, but when their deliberations spanned almost 5 days (the longest in the history of federal grand juries) there was speculation as to whether it was the government or the jurors who were responsible for the impasse. Finally, on March 29 it was announced that eight Ohio National Guardsmen had been indicted for criminal violations of the victims' civil rights; and of those eight, five were charged with actually causing the deaths of the two young men and two young women students killed during the 13 second fusillade. With these indictments Congressman Edwards' subcommittee closed its files forever. There would be no Congressional investigation, thanks to Mr. Bork. Ther would, however, be a criminal trial of the 8 guardsmen. This was of dubious consolation to the families beause some principle shooters and key officers gunfire had not been indicted, and a few of those who were facing prosecution should not, in our amalysis of the evidence, have been indicted at all.

If the government's sting was to work five vital goals had to be achieved:

1. Stop Saxbe from upsetting the applecart.
2. Stop the Edwards' subcommittee.
3. Obtain some indictments whilst avoiding charges against those most likely to blow the whistle on higher officials.
4. Ensure eventual acquittal for those indicted.
5 .Extricate the Justice Department from any further role in the Kent State case.

If the testimony before the federal grand jury shows anything (some of it was obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and published exclusively), it is that some of the most penetrating questions were asked not by the government prosecutors but by the jurors. This fact alone lends credence to the suspicion that prosecutor Murphy had no intention of seeking indictments against the most obvious cuprits in the shootings.

The trial began in Fall of 1974, and his opening statement, Mr. Murphy blithely destroyed whatever chance there might have been for conviction. He calmly conceded that the government had no ballistics evidence to prove which guardsman had shot which student, and that even in the most convincing instancethat of accused Sgt. Lawrence Shafer aiming and shooting student Joseph Lewis as he stood 71 feet away with an upraised finger, and then shooting him again as he lay wounded on the groundthe evidence consisted solely of the testimony of Lewis, the statement of Shafer to the FBI, and the testimony of several witnesses. In other words, the indictments charged that 5 guardsmen had killed 4 students, but hte government had no substantial evidence to show that these were even the right five! It was almost a farce, but it was brilliant. Defense attorneys did not even have to defend their clients. At the conclusion of the government's case, the judge stopped the trial, dismissed the jury, and himself acquitted all eight guardsmen. The Judge thus iced the government's cake by protecting the eight from further posecution under double jopardy and in so doing helped extricate the Justice Department from one of its most difficult civil rights cases in years. The cover-up of its Internal Security Division's covert role in what had happened at Kent State, not to mention the Presidents's obstruction of justice, was preserved, and best of all, the families and their suporters were, at long last, finally out of the picture. "Justice" had seemed to have been done. It was, in its way, as beautiful a sting as that in the movie of the same title, and when, five years later, NBC-TV Nightly News obtained, and made public, the "eyes only" memorandum from Ehrlichman to Mitchell, nobody gave a damn anymore.

John Crewdson of The Times had, essentially, been right. He had not, understandably, anticipated the Saturday Night Massacre of October, 1973, nor the nomination of William Saxbe to be Attorney General. Nor, to my knowledge, was he aware of Congressman Edwards' decision to investigate the Justice Department's handling of Kent State. These factors, in the end, forced the government to do what Crewdson was so sure it would never do. In the final analysis, what transpired was the equivalent of there never having been a federal grand jury in the first place, only better, much better, for the government as things turned out.

My greatest disappointment is with the news media; than in its almost blind obsession with Watergate it just could not see the forest for the trees. kent State, and the American people's general approval of the shootings, was the green light for further abuses of power, such as Watergate. The Kent State cover-up was an insidious, pervasive obstruction of justice that succeeded because a potential James McCord was never indicted and brought to trial, and a potential John Dean never threatened as a scapegoat for an incident in which four young lives were wantonly, and needlessly blown away for a loosely defined political objective: To put the lid on campus demonstratrions against the war and President Nixon once and for all. All in all, the Kent Stae sting worked incredibly well. Had the cover-up of Watergate escaped Senate investigation, it too might have succeeded, and Richard Nixon survived to retire with dignity. It was not, and the rest is history, and so, too, it might well have been with Kent State if only the House Judiciary's subcommittee No.4 had had its day in court, so to speak. Had that but happened I am convinced the American people would know more today of the sordid, tragic truth about Kent State than they are ever likely to know now.

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Sanford Jay Rosen

Sanford J. Rosen was the chief legal counsel for the plaintiffs in the 1979 Kent State Civil Trial

The Kent State Victims Won Their Lawsuit

For then years, we have lived twith the echo of the barrage of bullets that tore through the crowd of unardmed students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Four students were killed and nine were wounded by the Ohio National Guard gunfire that ended a student protest against the American invasion of Cambodia and the war in Indochina. The deaths far away had been bad enough, but now, the government was killing our children at home, too.

I had been on temoporary assignment as special counsel to the national Americal Civil Liberties Union for only for a few days when I was assigned to investigate the May 4 shootings at kent State. There was very little anyone could do to ease the pain of the victims and their families, but we could at least try to mitigate the tragedy by asking the courts to protect the students against further abuse and to place the blame and responsibility for the ourtage where it belonged: with Ohio's Governor and Adjutant General, the officers of the troops who fired and the troops themselves.

The ACLU and other civil liberties organizations and lawyers did what they do best: they took pieces ofthe tragedy into court in a systematic attempt to make government accountable. The list of legal actions is long; its recitation is not necessary for present purposes.

Perhaps the single most important legal event to come out of the May 4 tragedy was the civil damages lawsuits that were brought in federal court on behalf of all thirteen of the victims. They sued the Governor, the Adjutant General, the National Guardsmen who did the shooting and the officers who were in charge of those Guardsmen. These suits were dismissed by the trial court on the ground that they were tantamount to suits against the State of Ohio, and many or all of the defendants were absolutely immune from liability because they had acted within their official capacities as government officers. The United States Supreme Court reversed this ruling, holding that the suits were not suits against the State of Ohio and that the defendants, including Ohio's governor, could be sued for damages under the federal civil rights statute. This decision was a landmark in the development of federal civil rights damages law.

After the Supreme Court's decision, all of the Kent State federal civil damages cases were consolidated for trial lasted fifteen weeks. The plaintiffs (the victims) had no unified trial team at this first trial, and there as some dissension among both the plaintiffs and their attorneys. As the trial wore on for some fifteen weeks, Judge Young became increasingly hostile toward the plaintiffs, or at least toward their lawyers.

By the end of April 1975, the war in Indochina was over.

In August of 1975 the jury brought in a verdict in favor of the defendants in the civil damages cases by a vote of nine to three. (THe parties had stipulated that a concurrence of nine jurors was sufficient for a binding verdict.)

At this point, I came into the case as an ACLU volunteer attorney and became chief counsel for the victims. Before I accepted the assignment, however, I made it clear that I would be answerable to no one except the victims, and I would pursue no interests except those of the victims. Thus I refused to represent in any direct way the interests of any other individuals or of any organizations, or even of history. With this understanding, I recruited a nationwide team of lawyers and legal workers to prepare the appeals brief.

In preparing the appeal, we set out first to demonstrate the patent injustice of the jury verdict in favor of the defendants. Once having captured the court's attention, we hped to persuade it of some legally sufficient reason to reverse the trial court and remand for a new trial. Even with this plan, we did not have much hope of winning the appeal; so we were ecstatic when we won. Our strategy had worked. The appellate court had reversed the trial court on the technical ground that the trial judge had mishandled an outside intrusion in the form of a threat to and assault on one of the jurors. The case was remanded for a new trial.

I continued as the victims' chief lawyer for purposes of retrial, and was employed by the ACLU as special counsel for that purpose.

Having studied the record of the first trial and identified numerous legal errors detrimantal to the plaintiffs, our pretrial strategy was to cure these errors before the second trial started. So we drowned the defendants in a sea of pre-trial motions, most of which we eventaully won.

A by-product of this strategy appears to have been the sudden decision of Judge Don J. Young, who had presided at the first trial, to withdraw from the case. My clients were very pleased with this turn of events, for they had long believed that Judge Young was prejudiced against them. They and some of the previous attorneys, in fact, had pressed me hard to move to disqualify Judge Young on grounds of prejudice. I had at first resisted these efforts because I did not believe a case of bias or prejudice could be made out under prevailing legal standards. later I became persuaded that bias as a legal matter might be shown, and we prepared the necessary documentation to make a motion to disqualify Judge Young. He withdrew, however, before a new occasion occurred to trigger the motion.

As all the victims agreed, Judge Young's replacement, Judge William D. Thomas, was fair and just. Not only was he fair, in fact, but he also gave the appearance of being fair in his every action. After the trial, I commented to Judge Thomas about his strikingly favorable impression on the victims. He replied: "Fairness satisfies the appearance of fairness."

With the trail date approaching, I completed recruitment of the plaintiffs' trial team: principal trial co-counsel, Rees Davis, an experienced Mansfield, Ohio trial lawyer; senior trial co-counsel, David Engdahl, who had participated at the first trial and knew everything there was to know about the photographic evidence; Steven Keller, our litigation consultant, who had also participated at the first trial and who held and organized the entire record and files of the case in his mind; Ellen Goldblatt and Robert S. Baker, recent law school graduates, familiar with the case through their work with me on the case in my offices in San Francisco.

The trial team gathered to work on the case full time in Cleveland in early November of 1978 - nearly a month before the trial was o begin. By then we were receiving he invaluable assistance of the National Jury Project. The NJP assisted us generally in the jury selection process. The expenses of the litigation continued to be met largely through the fundraising efforts of Rev. John Adams, of the United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society.

It soon became unmistakably clear to the trial court, to the defendants, and to Ohio officialdom that we were treating the litigation single-mindedly and with utmost seriousness, expending every conceivable resource on the effort. We were gearing up to win - if winning were possible.

Yet, as we prepared the cases for trial, and even as we tried them, we also prepared to reach a settlement - on terms favorable to the victims. The new trial Judge, William K. Thomas, did everything he could to settle the lawsuits.

An settle we did - on January 4, 1979.

some people, including the Kent State victims' previous lead counsel Joseph Kelner, who lost the first of the civil damages trials, have said that the settlement was inadequate.* Kelner's co-author has gone so far to say that the victims' many legal and political actions produced no useful results.** They are wrong.

*See Kelner & Munves, The Kent State Cover-up (Random House 1980), at 260-269
** See Munves, More that People Died at Kent State, THE NATION, April 26, 1980, pp. 492-94.

By their unremitting efforts, the victims held the State of Ohio and its officials accountable for their use of excessive force on May 4, 1970. For the first time in the history of our nation, college student victims of excessive force used to disperse and assembly were given money compensation for their injuries - $67,000. More than that, for the first time the victims of such excessive force secured a signed and written statement of regret - almost universally understood as an apology - from those responsible for their injuries, the 28 defendant.

Of course the victims would have preferred more money and a stronger statement of apology and responsibility. We tried, but could get no more. Under all the circumstances, the victims accepted the settlement because, through it, essentially they got everything they sought in the lawsuit.

As they said on the day of the settlement:

We accepted the settlement out of court, but negotiated by the court, because we determined that it accomplished to the greatest extent possible under present law, the objectives toward which we as families have struggled during the past eight years.

These objected have been as follows:

1. Insofar as possible to hold the State Of Ohio accountable for the actions of its officials and agents in the event of May 4, 1970 at Kent State University.
2. To demonstrate that excessive use of force by agents of government would be met by a formidable citizen challenge.
3. To exhaustively utilize the judicial system in the United States and demonstrate to an understandably skeptical generation that the system can work.
4. To asset that human rights of American citizens, particularly those citizens in dissent of governmental policies, must be effected and protected.
5. To obtain sufficient financial support for Mr. Dean Kahler, one of the victims of the shooting, that he may have a modicum of security as he spends the rest of his life in a wheel chair.

Point 5 was especially important. If the victims gambled on a new trial and lost again, as they had lost before an Ohio jury when Mr. Kelner represented them, Kahler, a paraplegic as a result of the shootings, would have been denied funds he needed urgently.

The settlement achieved the victims' goal in several ways. They got $675,000 to compensate them for their actual physical injuries. By paying this money as well as additional sums for part of the victims' court cost, and by underwriting the denfendants' enormous legal fees and expenses, the State of Ohio acknowledged its responsibility for the shootings. So did the individual defendants (including the Governor and Adjutant General of Ohio), by signing the unprecedented statement of regret. President Carter's refusal to issue a comparable statement to secure the release of the American hostages in Iran makes clear how difficult it is to extract such statements from public officials.

The tenacity of the victims also helps to deter such conduct by public officials in the future. They maintained the legal struggle for eight years, continuing it even after suffering a disastrous jury verdict against them, until they made certain that they obtained compensation. To do this, they had to tie up their own lives in litigation, but they also tied up the lives of the Ohio officials who used excessive force. They demonstrated that those who abuse public power cannot quickly escape their responsibility.

What if the victims had not settled? Having lost the first trial, what if they had insisted upon finishing the second trial?

They might well have suffered the intolerable insult of losing a second time. I certainly could not predict how the second jury would have decided.

If they had completed the second trial, the victims could not have proven that the defendants were guilty of murder. In fact, this was not an issue before the court in the civil damages case.

The victims could not prove that the shootings occurred in the course of a conspiracy to kill or wound students. There may well have been such a conspiracy; but there was insufficient admissible trial evidence to support such a conclusion.

No important new revelations would have come out of the second trial. virtually everything we knew was already on the public record.

At the second trial all we could have done was to arrange the evidence more trimly and provide better focus to the events, pointing toward a single, simple goal of demonstrating that excessive force was used against the students of May 4, 1970. That was the issue we were trying in the Kent State civil damages cases, nothing broader or more profound. The Scranton commission more that nine years ago had decided that issue for history. It rightly concluded that "the indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable."

Even if the second trail had ended in a jury verdict for the victims, there was no assurance that the jury would have awarded them more than nominal damages. The victims of the Kent State shootings remain politically unpopular in northeastern Ohio. Unlike automobile accident cases, there are no standards that could be used to predict how much the jury would award the victims. And the individual defendants may have been able to pay substantial damages and the State of Ohio might not have volunteered to pay if the jury award were substantial. Any award for the victims probably would have been tied up for years in further appeals that could have resulted in yet a third trial. In the meantime, there would have been no money for Dean Kahler - or for the others who suffered serious physical injuries.

By their actions, including the prosecution and settlement of the damages cases, the Kent State victims, who were made exceptional by circumstances beyond their control, have helped us all to deal both with unresolved issues of excessive government force and with the unresolved residue of the war in Indochina. History will also record that the State of Ohio and its officials were held accountable by the courts for the shootings at Kent State. It would have been better had the penalties been heavier. but the Victims of the shootings deserve only admiration for persisting until they prevailed.

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John Adams

Rev. John Adams is head of the Department of Law, Justice and Community Relations of the Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church and the author of At the Heart of the Whirlwind.

For Rev. John Adams, who throughout the past ten years has played an instrumental role in the victims' efforts to achieve justice, Kent State represents the explosive culmination of what some people have called the conflict between the generations. "The Vietnam War exacerbated the other points, which came to a climax at Kent State on a hill and in a parking lot." Rev. Adams describes the incident at Kent as a "Predictable event that took place due to the latent violence that was bound to be expressed eventually." The educated youth of the era was a natural target for this violence because of the challenges it waged against so many parts of the society confident of their rightness."

"The shootings at Kent State opened people's eyes. The violent confrontation of seeing four white college students Killed compelled people to see what was taking place in America," continued Adams. "It is also symbolic that the military - not the police - but the military, complete with uniforms and arms, was involved because this reminded people of he war." For Adams and many other American, Kent State was when the war came home. "People point to Kent State as a turning point just like the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. People's lives were changed in that thirteen seconds of gunfire."

One of the aspects of the Kent State incident, and the subsequent ten year struggle in the courts, that amazes John Adams is "the number of people who were involved from all levels of life. People would show up just at the time they were needed. The momentum needed to continue the sacrificial struggle of the parents and wounded was always there." Adams believes that this is the real lesson of Kent State. "These parents forced the system to operate. the people involved in the pursuit for justice struggled to achieve some modicum of a response to justice, and I believe the 1979 settlement is proof that they were successful. the shock that began in 1970 reverberated throughout the decade as we all were determined that it would not be forgotten." Rev. Adams believe this shock has now subsided. There was different feeling during the memorial service at Kent State in 1980. I think Kent State has achieved its place in history.'

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The Photographers

John P. Filo is currently a sports photographer based in Kansas City; and John Darnell is still a photographer for the Boardman News.

If it hadn't been for the photographic efforts of John Filo and John Darnell on May 4, 1970, historical and chronological accounts of the Kent State shootings would have remained largely undocumented. Reacting instinctively to a very brief time sequence - thirteen seconds of gunfire - both photographers were able to capture the essence of the event, thus preserving it for posterity.

Ten years later, John Filo visited the Gadsden, Alabama location where Kent State was filming. He was there to reenact in a brief moment on the screen what had taken an equally brief time in real life: snapping his Pulitzer Prize winning shot of 14 year old Mary Vecchio pleading pathetically over the dead body of Jeff Miller.

"It was bizarre for me to walk through the similarities of the way Kent State looked 10 years ago" he commented on the set. "Sometimes I'll find my mind wandering, and I'll be back at Kent State 10 years ago rather than on a movie set."

When asked if the Guardsmen at Kent State were surrounded and in immediate danger of losing their lives, Filo replied, "I think they knew that they could walk anywhere they wanted to walk. I am sure there were student in front of them, and there may have been students behind them. They had that from just sitting down at the ROTC building."


John Darnell, who photographed the event for the Boardman News, said it did not appear to him that the Guard would resort to using weapons.

"It looked like the National Guard was walking toward the burned down ROTC Building, and maybe 500 feet away a group of students were yelling. There was some rock throwing, but they were very few in number and so far away that they couldn't hit any of the Guard."

"Only about 150 to 200 students were participating actively in the rally," Darnell remembered. "They shouted the typical anti-war profanities about Vietnam. The rest were just spectators. When the National Guard began to react, it became very helter-skelter."

"There was no provocation for the shooting. Four people in college lost their lives, Governor Rhodes was let off the hook, and there was not justice from the courts. How would you feel if you were one of the parents?"

Darnell was walking to one side of the Guard as they proceeded up the hill. When they turned around to shoot, he turned the opposite direction behind a column of Taylor Hall and took three pictures.

"My first reaction was to make sure I had the picture in focus and the F-stops set, because the sun was shining in the direction where I took the pictures."

Asked if he felt his own life was in danger, Darnell replied, "No. I wasn't something that was expected. I stayed behind the building and noticed a deathly silence. It was very eerie. People just stood there."

The "deathly silence" had a profound effect on John Filo, too. " I had a tremendously rough time readjusting just to home life after that day," he said. "I am talking about just dealing with people day-today at any level."

"There are the psychological after-effects of being a survivor, and still that haunting thing in that what did these people do to deserve to die," Filo continued. "I mean if these people were such troublemakers, I think it would have been very easy for the Guard to go arrest them with little or no problem. they are going to have some screaming and confrontation. I'm not going to say that I didn't see any rocks thrown or things of that nature, but the fact is, do you kill people just because they get the best of you?"

"I think there was a tremendous amount of frustration on the part of the Guard. Things just weren't working. They had been on the trucker's strike and took that situation in hand. They had control and were riding on that victory, if you can call it that. They rolled into town, saying ‘Hey, we'll show them what's up. We'll show them some law and order.' hey were the faces of a tremendous disrespect, and they, too, were a symbol of what everybody was basically mad about - the invasion into Cambodia>"

Darnell maintains that the Guard had not been provoked when they fired; Filo goes one step further in his analysis of the incident at Kent State.

"If you listen to the Guard long enough, I think you'll find out that probably the guns went off by themselves. That caused the chain reaction of all the guns going off by themselves, which resulted in the death of four students. For me, there's the unanswered question that I think there's something more behind all of this. How high up it goes.... How far it goes - I have my own suspicions. Especially with the events since Watergate."

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The Artists

John David

John David, Media Consultant and Narrator for the 1980 Tour.

Impressions Regarding Kent State: A Requiem

Assembling the cast for the 1980 tour was a long a difficult task. All of us had been associated with theatrical productions in the past, but the auditioning process for Kent State: A Requiem was, by far, one of the most difficult any of us had faced. Tying to grasp the feeling and motivations of such a complex individual as Jeff Miller, for example, during a cold reading was a next-to-impossible challenge. One actor, while reading the Jeff Miller material for the first time, was told his emotional intensity on a scale from one to ten stood at three. "Bring it up to nine," implored the director.

"Bringing it up to nine" was something that the actors were continually asked to strive for throughout rehearsals. A tremendous amount of strength was required for this production. The material was very physical and hard-hitting. The play was not written to be merely an entertaining piece, but rather to serve as a prod. The Requiem was crafted with the intention of jarring the audience; we wanted to make people think about their attitudes at the time of the shootings in 1970 and ten years later.

Mary Dollarhide, who portrayed Allison Krause in the 1979 production, remembers in what way she felt her role - an the play in general - differed from conventional drama. For many the key issues were a sense of responsibility and a commitment to accuracy.

"You had to be accountable for what you did on stage. It should have a feeling of accuracy anytime it is performed. When you perform something as a real person, at least for me, I feel responsible for the other people - the survivors of the incident. You are very responsible for what is presented in terms of your character and historical accuracy. It shouldn't have a lot of dramatic license.

"It takes a different type of actor, willing to use the craft but able to limit the creativity to historical facts, to dive into what is factually based. It's a new art form which is just being developed. Never before have actors been so responsible."

1980 cast members Tom Flynn (Jeff Miller) and Terry Troy (Alison Krause), on the other hand, were initially skeptical of the potential success of the show because it was so heavily based on historical facts and took little dramatic license. By the end of the Requiem tour, however, Tom and Terry both found that traveling with the show had been the "most rewarding" experience of their theatrical careers. Audiences were moved by the production; and Tome found that his role had "taken possession of him at Kent State," while Terry "felt a great identity with Allison Krause" at the conclusion of the run.

Members of the cast grappled with anxieties about their portrayals in very different ways. Neil Tadken, who played Bill Schroeder in the 1980 production, found that through preparation quieted many of his worries. Thinking back upon his experiences, Neil said, " I read a lot of material on Bill, and I felt a great affinity for him. I found many similarities between Bill and me and was able to work along the premise that we are alike in many ways. I explored my own feelings and emotions to try to experience what he was feeling."

Zina Bleck (Mrs. Schroeder), on the other hand found it impossible to conduct a clinical study of her part. With little printed biographical material to which she could refer, Zina would have had to research her role through conversations with Mrs. Schroeder. She recalls that "Greg wanted me to call Mrs. Schroeder, but I didn't want to do that. I kept thinking, ‘Am I saying this the way she would have said it?' I didn't want her to come up to me after our performance at Kent and say, ‘No, I never would have thought that' or ‘I didn't feel that way.' It was a very weird feeling because it's been the only time that I've played someone who is really alive."

Preparations for taking the show on the road generated any number of additional headaches for the cast and crew alike. We knew we would have to adapt to strange stages, poor lighting, and different types of audiences across the country. The Requiem's technical artist, artist Gary English, enjoyed the challenges of touring: "Part of the fun in touring is that there are always new problems to solve, new ways to bring he cinematic and dramatic techniques together in a very powerful blend. The biggest challenge was capturing he significance and power of the event in an attempt to bring about a new understanding of the incident."

Despite our lengthy rehearsals, apprehension among the players was mounting as we neared the departure time for the 1980 tour. Already exhausted, nervous in anticipation of our performance at Kent upon the tenth anniversary of the shootings, the cast grew more uneasy when Greg told us en route to Delaware that Lou Cusella, Bill Schroeder's best friend, would be attenting our first performance.

For Lou, now a professor of Communications and Rhetoric at the University of Delaware, the past ten years have been, understandably, a period of emotional turmoil. Cusella, who had been with Schroeder just prior to his death, had not seen the production previously. This, then, would be the first time in then years that he was to see the tragedy brought to life before him.

Lou came into the theater as we were running a final dress rehearsal the afternoon of our performance. From our positions on stage, we could see Greg talking with him about the show. It was an uncomfortable situation for all of us. It was especially difficult forbut in the end reassuring toNeil Tadken, playin his friend Bill, to talk with Lou: "Lou's wife told me that the strength of the overwhelming emotions brought Kent back to him," Neil explained. "The show was coming close to what it must have been like. His judgment of the reality of what he had seen made me feel good, that I was portraying it honestly and wasn't totally fictionalizing the character."

Suddenly we were arriving at Kent State. We were no longer rehearsing at some removed hall in California. This was the campus: the Commons. the Pagoda, and the parking lot. We weren't watching a documentary with E. G. Marshall; we were retracing the march of the National Guard. We weren't looking at photos of Jess Miller, Bill Schroeder, Allison Krause, and Sandy Scheuer, met the Scheuers. Mrs. Scheuer told Carri that she had the same kind of smile Sandy had had.

"We were just setting up and running lines on the stagewhen the Scheuers walked in, "Carri remembered. "I didn't know it was them. Greg called me over and said, ‘This is Mr. and Mrs. Scheuer,' and I paniched. I didn't know to act. Mrs. Scheuer said that I resembled Sandy in a lot of ways. I had no idea of how to respond to that. Do you say ‘thank you,' ‘oh,' or what? It was very difficult for me. It gave me an edge, made me really nervous and excited for the performance."

Being at Kent State and meeting the victims' families sparked special performances and lifelong memories for previous Requiem casts.

"Being at Kent State had a very haunting quality," recalls Sandy Egan, who portrayed Bill Schroeder in the 1979 production. "It changed from being a theatrical production to a real life thing. I met Mrs. Schroeder after all of the audience had left. I think only the Schroeders and the Scheuers were still sitting in the theater. She came up to me and was crying. I was terrified to meet her. She looked up at me and said, ‘You did a good jobBill,' and then she kissed me."

Meg Weber, an alumnus of the Mrs. Schroeder role, recalls having similar feelings during her time at Kent. "The day we set foot on the Kent State campus, the impression of those four students gunned down hit me very deeply. Mrs. Schroeder was no longer a ‘role' to play."

"It became incredibly important for me to convince people to believe what I had to say as Mrs. Schroeder," she continued, "and to understand that it was valid and should not be dismissed. The majority of us, while we were on stage, were attempting to convince people of the significance of the issue."

Ben Bambauer, who played Bill Schroeder in 1978, found that his physical and attitudinal likeness to Bill helped him give an honest interpretation of the material. The resemblance also resulted in a very moving experience for Ben: "After our performance at Kent, I was approached by Nancy Schroeder, Bill's siste, who was overcome with emotion because of my physical similarity to Bill."

As stirring as the previous years shows had been, there was an indescribable chemistry between the players and the audience during the tenth anniversary performance.

Neil found that being at Kent "reassured" his characterization. "It seemed like the 60's all over again and gave me a strong feeling for the time. The performance was electric emotionally and atmospherically, much more spiritual than theatricalmore like a ceremony or ritual than theater."

Zina recalls that "just performing on the tenth anniversary made it a lot of different. I had the nasty feeling that somebody was going to do something stupidtry and blow up the gym or something like that. The atmosphere affected the play a lot, and I think that helped us get into it. It was the most emotional production that I've ever been in. It all came together, between the actors getting along and the audience being up for it."

When the performance ended, a spontaneous standing ovation was started by the Schroeders. It was an incredibly emotional experience for all of us. We knew that we had succeeded in projecting the message of Kent State: A Requiem, and, more importantly, that it had been accepted by those closest to the incident.

Just talking for a few minutes with Dean Kahler, who was paralyzed for life at Kent, gave us a feeling of what he has gone through in the last ten years. Dean has had great strength and courage, however, and has never lost his optimism.

Perhaps the expression on Mr. Schoeder's face said all there is to say about Kent. It was a look which expressed the frustration from ten years of fighting in courtrooms and suffering for justice which never came. It raised the question that he and the other parents have been trying to answer for ten years: How can you forget when your own child is killed for something in which he was not involved?

In retrospect, what did the cast members learn from acting in the Requiem?

"I learned that people don't want to hear about Kent State," Sandy recalled. "They could be very negative. But when they did understand the situation, it became very real and very scary. It taught me that it could happen again, because it was so easy for people to get mixed up in it the first time."

Mary Dollarhide believes "the most important thing in doing Kent State: A Requiem or any historical piece is biece is being accountable. Accountable for to friends and parents, to the facts themselves. people should be forced to look facts in the face to prevent events like Kent from happening in the future. The audience should never be able to say, ‘That's Hollywood.' It should make them think."

And what about the film Kent State? Do you performers who travelled with the stage production feel that a television movie dealing with the tragedy will be accepted by the American public?

"Because of the trend lately to do Vietnam-oriented projects, it may make it more feasible to delve into the situation at Kent State," comments Art Andrade, who played Jeff Miller for three years in the Requiem. "I hope that it won't be milked as a Vietnam piece. It will be successful, but it must not be misidentified."

Sandy Egan thinks the TV movie will affect viewers: "We created the situation of Kent on the stage, but I think an actual dramatization of the events on television can be very powerful. The impact will be greater with more people able to watch it on television."

Mary Dollarhide is skeptical about the TV movie being widely watched: "I don't know if they will watch it, especially since the recent conservative swing in American politics. They might see it as ‘morally wrong.' The studio will have to seduce them into watching it. They won't watch it on their own. If they can seduce and then throw a factual presentation, more power to them. It will be great if it's factual. If it isn't it will be unfortunate."

April Adams (Sandy Scheuer in 1978 and 1979 productions of the Requiem) doesn't feel that the public will get out of the movie what it should: "I'm surprised how little people know about what happened. I teach two Communication classes at the University of Illinois, and I'm trying to explain the Kent State shootings tomy students. One girl still insists that it was an anti-war riot, and she even used Peter Davies as a source. I told her she better verify her information before making such erroneus claims. In this respect it's very important for NBC to put on a good publicity campaign, so that people will have a clearer understanding of the situation."

"No," Neil Tadken emphatically answers the question, "there are too many far reaching ramifications that they don't want to see. They don't want to see the truth and accept the consequences of that truth. The majority of America is still very ignorant about the processes of our government. They are under the illusion that they are participating democratically in a government that doesn't really listen to the people and hold the concerns of the people in mind."

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